Women Suffer, Children Suffer, The Nation Suffers

I woke up this morning to a heartfelt Twitter thread from UNICEF Jamaica – which, more often than not, is the voice of our conscience about how we treat our children. It follows the horrific story this week of a murder-suicide. It happened in public, on a Kingston street, at seven in the morning last Thursday. A woman was running for her life down the street, pursued by her husband, armed with a gun. He shot his estranged wife (who was reportedly pregnant) dead, then shot himself.

There was the usual hand-wringing. Both husband and wife were correctional officers in the prison system. There was talk about “Oh, it was known that they were having marital problems.” There were comments like, “Oh, this could have been prevented, they should have got counseling, working in prisons is very stressful”… etc, etc. The man was reportedly a “serial abuser.”

The following day, there was plenty of political news and a court decision, and over the weekend many of us were talking about the new season of Game of Thrones. This terrible incident was not even a “nine-day wonder.” Let’s say, one and a half days.

This is not the first murder-suicide in recent months. Last Christmas, a 40-year-old woman was murdered by her boyfriend, who was reportedly jealous of her ex. The boyfriend then killed himself. In February this year, a man chased his girlfriend out of their house in St. James as she tried to get away during an argument, shot her and then himself. Jealousy was said to be behind another murder-suicide when a man killed his girlfriend and teenage step-daughter in St. James last September, then drove his car into the river and drowned.

And so it goes on. Each time, the same things are said. Each time, we move on with our lives.

Last week’s incident was different – although far from unique. This time, the couple’s twelve-year-old daughter witnessed the event – the violent deaths of her parents. I’m grateful to UNICEF Jamaica for this morning’s thread of tweets (although the voice of our conscience seems to have been stilled). It reads as follows:

This week’s news reports about a mother whose life was violently taken by her husband in front of their young child, are a tragic and distressing reminder about the alarming levels of violence faced by women – and the children who are witness to it. #ENDviolence

According to the Jamaica Women’s Health Survey (2016), one in every four Jamaican women has experienced physical violence by a male partner.

Many of these women are mothers, whose children are watching and listening to horrific acts of violence that should never be a part of their childhood.

A recent UNICEF study showed that 176 million children under age five – 1 in 4 children worldwide – live with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence.

Not only can this exposure have a devastating and long-lasting effect on a child’s health and well-being, it also contributes to an alarming intergenerational cycle of violence.

Both global and local research has shown that children who are exposed to violence have a greater likelihood to become victims or perpetrators of domestic violence later in life.

In Jamaica, almost half of women who experienced intimate partner sexual violence had been beaten as children. Close to 30 per cent who experienced intimate partner physical violence in their lifetime had seen their mother beaten.

UNICEF is deeply concerned about how this cycle of violence is affecting Jamaican children and the society as a whole, against the backdrop of an epidemic of violence that is largely normalized.

UNICEF strongly encourages women who are victims of domestic violence to seek help to protect themselves and their children. We also urge the Government of 🇯🇲 to help ensure that children who witness violence are provided with psycho-social support to cope and heal.

UNICEF stands ready to support these efforts. We must do all we can together to end violence against women and children.

Our Government has high hopes for a “New Jamaica” (yes, there’s a hashtag for that, which our Prime Minister uses). Our young entrepreneurs have high hopes, too. So do our university students, our businessmen…Our women and our children. But hey – we may as well put the last two into a “vulnerable group” category. Because they are. Not only vulnerable but (literally) threatened. I guess they just hope to survive.

Until we care for, nurture and respect our women and children, we cannot aspire to (or achieve) greatness in this country.

No matter how many neon-lit high-rise buildings we erect. No matter how many shiny hotels and highways we build.

Oh, what about Vision 2030?

Let us remember women like 37-year-old Janice Linton (Mama Tete), mother of three teenagers, who was stabbed to death in Hope Bay, Portland, in 2014. Her common-law husband was charged with her murder. (Photo: On The Ground News Reports)



7 thoughts on “Women Suffer, Children Suffer, The Nation Suffers

    We should embrace the true concept of a male-dominated family unit that would bring stability to the family. What we have instead is male domination over the woman only,
    and lack of leadership and responsibility of the men – leading to broken families.
    As a necessity for survival in modern society, the roles have changed phenomenally for women. They are not only mothers, daughters, and sisters, but as veterans, business leaders, and public officials. Women have successfully helped to build nations and invigorate communities. In fact they are multi-taskers combining multiple roles of child-bearers, primary health caregivers, both as a profession and for the family, nurturers and providers; in some cases more proficiently than men. Some men are still hanging on to the profiles primeval arts and literature bestowed on them, but have not demonstrated their real manhood in accepting their true responsibilities as a MAN.
    Our global society seem to have retrogressed to archaic times when women were treated as chattels. The moral fabric of our society are in such sordid state of decadence, that women are increasingly targeted for sexual exploitation – rape or human trafficking, and murder. Certain pseudo-religious organizations, cults and social clubs, still exclude women from their ranks, or leadership positions. A lot of females are intimidated by certain industries because of male dominance. They are subjected to gender bias, boorish, harassment sexist banter, and misogyny in general. Evolving out of intrinsic gender bias, women pay scales have been traditionally lower than that of men.
    Women should be respected equally as men with equal pay and not just as baby-making machines or comfort-zone stations. Women should be admired for their brains, not just their bodies.


  2. These moments are truly hard, I worry for persons in relationships were violence exist. Jamaica needs to have a hostels for persons to be able to find refuge. Trust many will have a lot to say but walking away is even harder sometimes than staying. No body wants to stay in the abuse but fear often keeps them there.


  3. Wonderful article as usual, Emma. I have never understood how so many people fail to understand what is so clearly logical – the persons who raise the children impact the socio-economic health of a nation.


  4. I have mire than 30years experience as a frontlibe practitioner. I am seeking employment in Jamaica to provide training and support for those working with survivors of domestic violence.
    Who do I contact? Any advice


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